Sunday, October 2, 2011
Turns out, all they needed was a little love because they have since EXPLODED with tomatoes. Unfortunately we were going to get our first frost this past weekend so we needed to pick some of them before they were ripe.
What's a southern girl to do with a bunch of green tomatoes?
After I made these I went upstairs and turned on the television only to find the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes" playing. Not even kidding. It was meant to be!
I like to think these fried green tomatoes would live up to the ones served at Whistle Stop Cafe.
I really just winged it with the recipe so the measurements aren't precise. Just use whatever proportions and spices you like. It really doesn't matter!
Fried Green Tomatoes
4-6 green tomatoes (mine were small so I used 6), sliced
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 Tbsp flour (I used whole wheat)
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp celery salt
dash of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup Egg Beaters (or 2 beaten eggs)
canola oil (or oil of choice...but not olive oil because it will burn)
Place a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Pour enough oil in just to cover the bottom of the pan. Allow oil to heat for at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the cornmeal, flour and spices together in a shallow dish. Place the egg in another shallow dish. Dip each tomato slice in the egg to cover completely and then into the cornmeal mixture. Make sure to press each slice well into the cornmeal so it sticks.
Put the coated tomato slices into the hot oil and cook for about 3-5 minutes per side (depending on how hot your oil is) until golden brown on both sides. Don't crowd the tomatoes too much in the pan....you'll probably have to do at least two separate batches.
Place cooked tomatoes on a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with more salt if desired.
Serve tomatoes with ranch dressing, hot sauce, marinara or whatever you like! Or just eat them plain. They don't even need a dip!
Monday, September 5, 2011
Do I have a recipe for you!
I've been absent a lot lately and the food-related posts have seriously been lacking, but now I'm back with a BANG!
Feast your eyes on these babies:
Hello, beautiful. Get in my mouth.
Reese's Cheesecake Bars.
Yes. You read that right. Reeses + cheesecake. Two of my favorite things, and hopefully two of your favorite things too.
If not, you're weird. (sorry)
My only complaint is WHY THE #$%^ DIDN'T I MAKE THESE SOONER?!?
In case you can't tell already, these are amazingly delicious. Probably going to make a batch of these as often as I possibly can (which if I want to still fit in my jeans is not that often).
I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!
Reese's Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars
source: The Sweets Life
-7 whole graham crackers, broken into small pieces
-6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted & cooled
-3 tbsp brown sugar
-2 tbsp all-purpose flour
-1/8 tsp salt
-2 packages cream cheese, softened (I used reduced-fat cream cheese)
-2/3 cup granulated sugar
-1/4 cup sour cream (I subbed 0% greek yogurt)
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 bag mini Reese's peanut butter cups, chopped
-1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line an 8-in pan with aluminum foil, leaving a 3-4 inch overhang on each side. Grease foil.
2. Make graham cracker crust by adding crackers to food processor and pulsing until fine. Add butter, brown sugar, flour, and salt. Pulse until mixture is combined. Press into the bottom of the baking dish.
3. Bake crust for 12-15 minutes until browning. Cool for at least 30 minutes.
4. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add sugar, beating well. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in sour cream (or greek yogurt) and vanilla extract until fully combined.
5. After chopping Reese's peanut butter cups, set aside approximately 1/2 cup for later. Stir the remaining chopped candies into the cream cheese batter.
6. Pour batter into baking pan, spreading evenly over crust. Bake at 325F for 35-40 minutes (rotate halfway through), until the edges are set and middle still jiggles slightly.
7. Cool cheesecake for 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate 3-24 hours.
8. Remove from fridge and using the foil overhang, remove bars from pan. Melt chocolate in the microwave (stirring every 15 seconds). Drizzle chocolate over bars and top with remaining chopped Reese's cups. Cut into squares and enjoy!
**Ashley's Notes: I had to speed this process along because I made these just a few hours before I wanted to eat them, so there was no time for 24 hours of chilling. Instead, I pulled the cheesecake out of the oven and let it cool at room temp for about 1 hour. Then I put the cheesecake into the freezer for about 2 hours (just enough to thoroughly chill but not freeze them). They still turned out great so if you're in a pinch, you can do it the faster way!
Another note, don't freak out if your cheesecake cracks as it cools. This happens. And you're just going to cover it with chocolate and Reese's anyway so it doesn't matter!
Friday, September 2, 2011
Apologies for the large gap in posting lately. We've been in our new home for almost a month now and our time has been taken up with LOTS of home improvement projects, unpacking, organizing, etc.
Also, I spent about 2 weeks applying for a bajillion jobs here in the area and good news....I GOT A JOB!!!! Yahoooooo!
I started my new full-time job (I'm an office assistant for a property management company) this past Monday so I pretty much transitioned from house madness into new-job madness. Whew! I'm tired!
I promise I'll be back to posting regularly soon, when I've adjusted to being back in the working world. (So far, I've pretty much been EXHAUSTED at the end of every work day....like completely useless. So I hope I get my energy back soon!)
Thanks for sticking with me during this crazy time! :)
Friday, August 19, 2011
You may or may not have wondered if my absence meant I'd fallen into a black hole on my way to Tennessee, but I did not! We made it to our new duty station, closed on our house (!!!), moved in, and have been furiously attempting to get settled ever since. I'll be sure to update you on the new house more when I really get the time, but for now I'll just leave you with this week's MilSpouse Fill-In.
1. My spouse and I rarely agree on what to watch on TV (I like trashy reality, he likes boring history and corny sitcoms), but always agree on how to spend our free time (we like to do the same things...watch movies, cook, eat, etc).
2. If I could use one word to sum up the way I feel right now, it would be overwhelmed. We still have so many things to do with this house to get settled, plus I need to find a job soonish so we can AFFORD all the home improvements! :)
3. One of the things my spouse does that grosses me out is he's not very good about brushing his teeth at night before bed. I think that's gross, but he thinks it's normal. I always tell him he's going to get cavities but he NEVER does so I guess that argument doesn't work...
4. My readers may think I’m crazy for doing this, but I really love to try new foods that some may consider weird or gross. I've eaten raw quail egg, raw beef (beef tartare), caviar, duck liver (foie gras), cow thymus gland (sweetbreads), pig intestine (chitlins), etc. I'm a strong believer in always at least trying something before you say you don't like it, and most of the time I'm surprised at how delicious it is!
5. Frankly, my dear, I don’t want to read about how much you love your spouse EVERY SINGLE DAY on Facebook. I've noticed a ton of people doing this lately and I don't get it! Just send them a private message! It's weird that you feel the need to profess your love in a public manner on a daily basis...and it makes me wonder if you are trying to prove something. End of rant....phew!
Thursday, August 18, 2011
2. Hope and pray that your landlady has already made out your deposit refund check when she comes to do your final walk-through, because otherwise she will try to charge you for not mowing the "lawn" (a.k.a. weeds...this is Arizona, people!).
3. Audio books from The Cracker Barrel are life savers for getting through a cross country drive. (I listened to The Hunger Games and The Island and both were excellent!)
4. Driving across West Texas is really, really, REALLY boring, but you can drive really fast (80 mph). And it hurts me to say that since it's my home state (but we don't claim the Western half).
5. It is possible to sneak a 36 pound dog into an indoor-entry hotel (in middle of nowhere, Texas) that technically doesn't allow pets. Picture this: Dog wrapped in a blanket, tail sticking out conspicuously, me on the lookout. It was reminiscent of the scene in The Hangover where they sneak the tiger out of the hotel room....and it was hilarious.
6. Arkansas is really freaking hot in the summer. Like, 115 degrees, hot. It felt like an oven. Thank goodness we only spent one night there. (Sorry, Arkies)
7. Your husband's bladder is even smaller than you originally thought. Another bathroom stop?!?! No more liquids for you until we arrive!
8. Big rig trucks should not be allowed to pass each other on highways where there are only 2 lanes. I swear it's like a pissing contest for them to see who can get in front of each other and it SLOWS ME DOWN and ruins my cruise-controlled contentment! Just get the heck out of my way!
9. Having walkie talkies while you're driving cross country seems like a great idea at first, until your husband proceeds to interrupt your attempt to listen to an audio book no less than 357 times during the most intense part of the story to tell you about random things he sees on the road (such as roadkill) via his walkie talkie. Apparently he was bored (see #4). He should have rented an audio book!
10. Tennessee is a pretty state, but I hate the highways (see #8). Coming from Arizona, I was in green landscape OVERLOAD with all the trees, rivers and rolling hills.
11. Your household goods delivery men will have at least one lazy one amongst them who will refuse to actually read the label on the boxes and will just put them wherever he wants. Such as boxes clearly labeled "office" or "master bedroom" being lovingly placed in the garage. Thanks, dude.
12. Moving is fun. (not really...see #1-11)
Have you experienced any of these pleasures? Do tell!
Monday, August 1, 2011
Tuesday 7/26: 4-mile walk with the puppers (see above) + POP Pilates: New Body Makeover (A YouTube 30-minute Pilates workout...It was awesome! I can't wait to try more of Cassey's videos.)
Wednesday 7/27: 4-mile walk
Thursday 7/28: 20 minutes on the stairclimber (at the gym) + 1.5 mile jog + some dumbbell arm exercises
Friday 7/29: None -- driving all day!
Saturday 7/30: None -- driving all day!
Sunday 7/31: None -- spending time with family all day! :)
We're staying in a hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas tonight so I'm just popping in to say hi! Tomorrow we make it to the location of our new HOME (!!) but we don't actually close on the house until August 4th (Thursday). I'm sooooo excited and anxious to get our new lives started! And so ready to be done with driving hours on end every day! Have a great week!
Monday, July 25, 2011
Monday 7/18: None (traveling all day)
Tuesday 7/19: None (recovering all day...who knew a 3 hour time difference could cause jet lag?!)
Wednesday 7/20: Jillian's Best Moves from Exercise OnDemand...I didn't do all of it. It's a KILLER workout and would take about 2 hours. I did about 1 hour worth of it.
Thursday 7/21: 2-mile jog + 1-mile walk
Friday 7/22: 1-mile jog + 2-mile walk
Saturday 7/23: Xtreme Timesaver Training (Jackie Warner) DVD
Sunday 7/24: None (although I was organizing for packers/movers to come all day so I still got in some movement!)
The move has officially begun!! The packers arrived this morning to start putting our life into boxes. Today and tomorrow are packing days, then on Wednesday they pick everything up. Friday we leave Arizona for good and start making the long trek towards Tennessee!
Time for a new chapter in our Army life!!
Thursday, July 21, 2011
And things are only going to get crazier from here....the big move officially starts next week! Ahhhh! Bear with me through my potential lack of posting over the next few weeks. I'll try to pop in from time to time!
Monday 7/11: 45 minutes walking on the treadmill at alternating inclines between 5.0-10.0
Tuesday 7/12: 30 Day Shred Level 3 + 15 minutes walking on the treadmill (10 min. @ 8.0, 5 min. @ 2.0)
Wednesday 7/13: 25 minutes of intervals (1 min. run & 1 min. walk) plus a 5 minute warm-up and a 10 minute cool-down (40 minutes total)
Thursday-Monday: Rest Days....On vacation in Boston with my friends! We walked (and danced) a TON though so I still got some good movement in. :)
Just for kicks, here are some of my favorite pics from Boston...
More dancing/singing. (Lindsey, Kate & Emma)
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
A panini made with fresh mozzarella slices, tomato, baby spinach and a schmear of pesto. Plus a side of extra ripe, juicy peaches on the side.
(I use my George Foreman to make paninis and it works like a charm.)
Peaches are so good right now! Yum.
I love summer!
What's your favorite summer lunch?
Monday, July 11, 2011
I think my lackluster workout regime is a result of:
A) The ridiculous heat. It's like pulling teeth to get me to go run outside these days. Most of my runs are done on the treadmill, or more appropriately the "dreadmill". I hate running on a treadmill BUT at least it can be done in an air conditioned room with a fan blasting. Ah well...I'll get back on my running routine when the Fall arrives. :)
B) The house purchase/the impending move. My mind has obviously been elsewhere lately and I'm okay with that! It's an exciting time for us and there is a lot to get done before and after the move. We're less than 3 weeks away from moving so there are a lot of appointments to set up, calls to make, moving prep to do, etc.
Anyway, after making excuses, now I'll let you look at my workouts for the week. I'm still proud of the fact that I fit in what I did!
Monday 7/4: 2-mile jog
Tuesday 7/5: Jackie Warner's X-treme Timesaver Training DVD
Wednesday 7/6: Rest
Thursday 7/7: Jogged 3 miles + some tricep dips & pushups
Friday 7/8: Sexy & Strong (from Exercise OnDemand) + Butt Bible Lower 1** (from Exercise OnDemand) + 10-minute jog
**Yes, I do realize that "Butt Bible" is quite possibly the most annoying name for a workout video ever. And the host is also extremely annoying. However, I felt the burn in my buns...so I guess there's that.
Saturday 7/9: 2-mile jog
Sunday 7/10: Jackie's Power Circuit Training DVD
How was your week in fitness? Do you notice your workout motivation slipping during certain times of the year or around big events?
We need to all keep this in mind sometimes:
Saturday, July 9, 2011
I have a long and loving history with cheesecake ice cream. I first fell in love with the flavor combo at a Marble Slab Creamery. If you haven't been to a Marble Slab, go to the website, find the store closest to you, and go there now. Seriously, trust me on this....I think it's the best store-bought ice cream out there!
When I got my driver's license I would often go to Marble Slab at least 2 times a week and get a pint of the cheesecake ice cream to take home. Wow...gotta love young metabolisms!
Unfortunately, there is no Marble Slab within 3 hours of where I live now so I had to get creative to satisfy my beloved ice cream craving. (However, I definitely just checked and there are two Marble Slabs in Nashville, less than an hour from our next duty station! Woohoo!!)
I searched the web for cheesecake ice cream recipes and ultimately decided on the one that looked the easiest and didn't involve any stovetop cooking. I mixed up the ice cream base in the food processor and then popped it in the fridge for about 8 hours to chill.
Then I used my Kitchenaid Ice Cream Maker Attachment to freeze the mixture. And the result was.....
Rich, creamy, tangy, perfectly cheesecakey (yes, it's a word).
My husband was mmm-ing the whole way through his bowl. It was almost obnoxious.
He's already requested that I make it again. Given that it's not exactly a health food, he might have to wait a little more than 2 days before I make it again.
Cheesecake Ice Cream
Source: adapted from David Lebovitz, The Perfect Scoop
8 ounces (1 box) cream cheese (I used reduced-fat)
1 cup sour cream (I used 0% greek yogurt)
1/2 cup light cream (I used half and half)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon (I omitted)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt
Place all ingredients in food processor or blender and process until smooth. Pour into container, seal tightly, and refrigerate until well chilled.
When ice cream base is chilled, process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. Place finished ice cream in a freezer-safe container with a tight-fitting lid and freeze immediately. Let ripen in freezer for at least 3 hours before serving, for best results.
Note: Next time I would probably double the recipe because it didn't make that much. Just enough for two me-size servings and two Husband-size servings.
Also, this ice cream is VERY rich so next time I might try using more half and half or milk to take down the richness a bit.
EDITED TO ADD: I made this a second time and I made some changes to make it a little less rich...
-Increased half and half to 3/4 cup
-Added 1/2 cup of skim milk (it was all I had...I would have preferred 1% or 2%)
These changes resulted in a not-so-rich but still totally delicious ice cream. It does freeze a little harder (because of the lower fat content) so just be sure to let it sit out of the freezer for 10 minutes or so before serving.
Friday, July 8, 2011
1. Does you significant other read your blog? Is this a good or a bad thing? Yes!! He is probably my number one blog supporter. He scolds me if I haven't blogged in a while, gives me ideas, and tells me if I make a mistake. He has even considered writing a couple "guest posts" but never got around to it. I'm still working on it though. :)
We have a large frame that holds a photo from our wedding, a copy of our wedding invitation, and a painted likeness of the church where we got married (painted by a friend who is an amazing artist). I would be devastated if I ever lost it because it is so special and personal to us. (I would put up a photo of it but it has our last names on it so for privacy reasons I'm not going to.) I feel the same way about a pearl necklace that I have because it was given to me by my mother but once belonged to my great grandmother....plus I also wore it on my wedding day. :)
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Hopefully not a faux pas, because I was rocking 'em for about a week.
I tried out Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Polish Strips for the first time a couple weeks ago and thought I would write up my review of them.
If you haven't heard of them, they are pretty self-explanatory: stick-on nail polish. These are different from stick-on fake nails because they are super thin and don't add thickness or length to your nails.
What I Liked:
-The fun designs that they come in. You can't exactly paint zebra print on your nails (well, at least I can't) so it's a fun change to be able to have a print or design on the nails. I got a couple of compliments on the fun nails so that's always a good sign.
-The fact that they're supposed to last longer than regular polish (up to 10 days). However, mine only lasted about a week but I think that could be more my fault for not applying them correctly.
-No dry time. I hate hate hate waiting for nails to dry so that was a nice change.
What I Didn't Like:
-The price tag. At $8.50 per box, which is only enough for one application, they are definitely more pricey than buying nail polish for the same price and reusing it over and over. That being said, they still cost less than a manicure, so I guess it's worth it for a once in a blue moon treat.
-Application was trickier than I expected. I've never been good with tasks that require a steady hand and these definitely need that in order to make sure you're sticking it on in the correct place and/or lining it up with your cuticles. They looked far from perfect if you looked closely, but the zebra print kind of helped hide that fact. Also, it took me just about as long as it does to do my nails the old fashioned way (base coat, 2 coats polish, top coat) but that's probably just because I sucked at it.
So basically, I liked 'em but I didn't love 'em. I might buy them again but not anytime soon. It would be a good stocking stuffer for someone like me though (hint, hint!). :)
Have you tried the Salon Effects Nail Strips? What did you think?
Monday, July 4, 2011
Monday 6/27: Rest
Tuesday 6/28: Jackie's Power Circuit Training DVD
Wednesday 6/29: The 100 Workout (more details below)
Thursday 6/30: 45 minute power walk on the treamill with alternating incline (between 4.0-6.0)
Friday 7/1: Jillian Michaels' No More Trouble Zones DVD
Saturday 7/2: Rest
Sunday 7/3: Rest
On Wednesday I tried a new workout that I found...
I totally underestimated this workout! I wasn't all that intimidated by it, but it definitely had me sweating and burning like a beast!
My thoughts on it...
-I added a 1-minute warm-up by lightly jogging in place before I began.
-The jumping jacks were easy for me. I was breathing heavier by the end but nothing impossible.
- The crunches were HARD...especially the first set of 90. I had to take mini-breaks after every 20-25 or so because my abs suck. For the second set of crunches I changed it to Bicycle Crunches because I wanted to work a different part of my ab muscles.
-The squats were tough and my legs were feeling the burn. I took a couple min-breaks in this round too.
-I wasn't sure what it meant by "Leg Lifts" since there are many different variations, so I just took it to mean lying side leg lifts. (Where you lay on one side, resting on your elbow, and raise the top leg straight up and down) I did 35 on each side for the first round of leg lifts and then 15 on each side for the second round. They weren't too bad but I did feel the burn in my outer thighs for sure!
-The 10 minute run at the end might have been the hardest part because I was already sweaty and my legs were fatigued. I felt like I was having to drag my legs along just to get them to move! But by the end it wasn't so bad.
-I added a 5 minute cooldown walk at the end.
-I wish this workout incorporated some arm exercises. I think that's the one are it's lacking, but I could always add some in next time.
Overall though, a great workout that I would definitely do again! Let me know if you try it!
Saturday, July 2, 2011
With just under a month until we move out, Operation Pantry Clean Out is in full effect. Somehow, even in just 7 months of living here, we have accumulated a pretty full pantry and fridge/freezer. Typical! We have no desire to move a ton of food with us across the country, so we are seriously trying to use up what we have.
When I spotted this recipe for Spicy Black Bean Enchiladas, I immediately knew I wanted to make it. Not only did it look delicious, but it would also be a good use for a couple of the cans of beans and green chiles that were hanging out in our pantry. Perfect!
I made a few adjustments to the recipe, which I noted below, but mostly kept it the same. And oh man were these tasty!! They were super filling, even despite being meatless, and I loved the creaminess that the sour cream added to the filling.
They were super easy to make too, especially with a little help from the husband. We tag teamed the filling and rolling of the tortillas, which made it go a lot faster. I love working together in the kitchen! Great husband-wife bonding time. :)
Spicy Bean Enchiladas
Source: Adapted from Keep it Simple Foods
Makes 4-6 servings
1 package small corn tortillas (with 10-12 in a package)
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed (I used 1 can of black beans and 1 can of red kidney beans since that's what I had on hand)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 handful cilantro, chopped (plus some for garnish if desired)
1/2 cup onion, chopped (divided)
1 small can green chilis or a spoonful of jarred/fresh sliced jalapenos
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (The Husband said he would omit the cinnamon next time, as he doesn't like cinnamon in savory foods. I couldn't even taste it though, so it didn't bother me!)
1/2 cup (light) sour cream (You could also sub plain greek yogurt for this but I didn't have any...gasp!)
1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese (or whatever kind you like) (divided)
1/2 lime (juice and zest)
1 can green enchilada sauce (I used a jar of tomatillo green salsa that I had on hand instead of enchilada sauce....but I also think these would be yummy with RED enchilada sauce. Just use whatever you have!)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, combine beans, garlic, about a third of the chopped onions, cilantro, green chiles, all the spices, sour cream, lime juice & zest and about 1/3 cup of cheese. Combine well.
Spoon about 1/4 cup of the filling into each of the corn tortillas and roll them by hand. Try to get them as tight as you can and then place them in a baking dish seam side down.
Pour the green sauce on top so that it coats each tortilla.
Top with the remaining cheese, onions, and chopped pickled jalapenos (if desired).
NOTE: You could easily add some chopped, cooked chicken to the enchiladas if you need more substance. I'm sure it would be tasty, but they don't need it! They are very flavorful and yummy as written!
Friday, July 1, 2011
Yesterday was our inspection day!
I was so anxious all day waiting to hear how it went, since we are still in Arizona right now. I really wish we could have been there for it in person, but it just wasn't gonna happen.
After trying to wait patiently all day long, I finally broke down and called the inspector in the afternoon to see what he had to say. Apparently he had finished the inspection hours ago but didn't think to call me. Really?! I was waiting around all day and little did I know he had finished a long time ago!
His response was that the house was "in great shape" and that it's the kind of house he loves to inspect because it's so well-maintained. Sweet! He did mention a few minor items but said it wasn't anything major. I was really worried about the maintenance of the home since it was built in 1999 (which is older for the area), but it looks like all my worries were for naught.
Later that night he sent us the full inspection report, which was very thorough and complete. It included photos of any "problem areas" with arrows pointing to the objects in question. That was very helpful considering how we were on the other side of the country!
The only items of concern were:
1. Some fungi spores in the crawl space. He recommended having them checked out and treated.
2. Weather stripping was worn on two of the exterior doors. Super easy to fix!
3. Fireplace needed cleaning because it had a lot of "creosote" in it.
4. Some sort of missing clamp on the garbage disposal. We had no idea what this really meant, but it seems like an easy fix.
5. One of the kitchen windows had a broken sash so it wouldn't stay up.
We have asked the sellers to fix all of these items before closing, which hopefully won't be a huge deal since they're all easy fixes.
Yesterday we also found out that the sellers had their termite inspection, which they were required to do as part of our VA loan contract. Apparently the inspector found evidence of termites in the crawl space, but the sellers are going to treat the house before closing. I've heard that Tennessee is a thriving area for termites so I'm not too concerned since it seems pretty normal to have some evidence of them. We plan on treating for them every year so hopefully we can keep them at bay.
It was a huge relief to put all the inspection stuff behind us! It looks like this house is really as great as we thought it was and all signs are pointing to closing in about a month. Woohoo!
The only major step left before closing is the VA appraisal. If the house appraises for less than what we agreed to pay, the sellers will either have to lower the purchase price to that amount or we will have to walk away. This is a contingency of a VA loan, since they won't approve a loan for a house that appraises for less than the purchase price. In contrast, if the house appraises for more than what we agreed to pay, we still get it for the lower agreed upon purchase price. It's actually really nice for us (the buyers) because it puts my mind at ease about whether or not we overpaid for the house.
I still can't believe we're actually going to be homeowners! This is such an exciting time!
Have you ever dealt with a home inspection? How did it go? Please share your stories...I'm a total newb at all this so I love hearing other people's experiences!
1. Have you (spouse) ever considered joining the military and what do you think of dual military couples? No, I never considered joining the military. To be honest, I'm just not cut out for it and I'm perfectly okay with that! I totally respect dual military couples for making that double sacrifice, but it's not for us.
2. What is your idea of a perfect Sunday afternoon? It really depends on what kind of mood I'm in. Some days I would like to just be lazy and watch movies, some days I would like to bake all afternoon, and some days I would like going for a hike or doing something fun.
3. What do you usually do for the 4th of July holiday? Usually we travel to my family's ranch for the 4th. It usually involves lots of relaxation, swimming, eating good food, campfires and fireworks. This is the first year that we're living outside of Texas so it will be an adjustment to not be able to travel to the ranch this year. Luckily, we've made some great friends here in Arizona so we're having them over for a cookout on Sunday!
4. If they could make an Olympic event JUST for you that you know you’d medal in, what would it be? Oh gosh I have no idea! Maybe professional Facebook stalker? HAHA. That was my husband's suggestion....and I am pretty good at it.
5. What have you been doing to get yourself bathing suit ready for the summer? I've been on a mission to lose weight and tone up ever since January when we moved to Arizona. I figured since I didn't have a job anymore, I really didn't have any excuse not to work out. So far I've lost about 17 pounds and I feel GREAT! Check out any of my "This Week in Fitness" posts to see what I've been doing to work out. To sum things up though, I've been trying to workout 5-6 days a week and I also watch what I eat. I don't count calories or anything but I do pay attention to try not to overdo it. Eat whole grains, lots of fruit & veggies, etc.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Oh my goodness. There are SO many amazing home blogs out there, but the ones I love the most are just normal couples like you and me who are making over their own homes one room at a time. And many of them do it on crazy low budgets as well! Talk about inspiration.
Since I know we'll have a lot of home improvement projects on our hands when (if) we close on this house, I figured I should start getting inspiration and ideas. And boy have I ever!
Here are some of my favorite, recently discovered home decor blogs for your reading pleasure.
-Nesting Place: This one actually isn't recently discovered. I've been reading her blog for a while now because she is a RENTER who still manages to make her (rented) home look beautiful and custom. That's quite a feat!
-A Soft Place to Land: Beautiful room re-dos and lots of great small ideas too (like hanging a hydrangea basket on your front door!) that make you say "Why didn't I think of that?!"
-Young House Love: This one I seriously fell in love with at first sight. They're an adorable couple, both of whom contribute to the blog, who are renovating their home. They show great step-by-step tutorials and lots of photos. This post on painting kitchen cabinets has me thinking that maybe we should paint ours. They also just seem like the type of people we would be friends with.
-The Inspired Room: Melissa is a design consultant who truly does inspire with her room makeovers. I love her style and her "keepin' it real" attitude.
-Better After: I love a good before and after photo for inspiration, so this blog is right up my alley. It's dedicated solely to showing great before and after transformations. Sweeeet!
-Thrifty Decor Chick: This girl seriously knows how to spy a junky looking piece at a thrift store and see it for what it could be. She transforms them into beautiful, magazine-style pieces in little to no time. And can I tell you how much I loved this post on being a "piler"? Because that's totally me. Note to self: Must work on that nasty little habit!
Hopefully with inspiration from these ladies (and one guy) I'll be a home decor professional in no time and have our house looking immaculate! (Yeah right.)
Do you have any favorite home decor blogs? What are they? I am always looking to add to my Google Reader!
Monday, June 27, 2011
I didn't get around to posting last week's This Week in Fitness since I was in Tennessee house hunting and subsequently putting in an offer, so this week's post has two weeks worth of workouts. I wish I could say that means it's going to be twice as motivating and impressive for you, but I definitely slacked off a bit amidst all the travel/house hunting/etc.
You'll notice a surprising number of "rest days" but I should probably just call them "Didn't feel like working out days" or "Life got in the way days" or "I'm trying to find a house and put in an offer in a limited time span so do you really think I have time to workout?! days". :)
Monday 6/13: Jackie's Power Circuit Training DVD
Tuesday 6/14: Harley Pasternak's Time Saving Workout + 10 minute power walk at 7.0 incline on treadmill
Wednesday 6/15: 2 mile jog (19:10)
Thursday 6/16: 10 lb Slimdown Total Body + 10 lb Slimdown Yoga
Friday 6/17: Rest
Saturday 6/18: Rest
Sunday 6/19: Rest
Monday 6/20: 1 mile jog + 1 mile walk
Tuesday 6/21: Rest (house hunting and putting in an offer!)
Wednesday 6/22: Rest
Thursday 6/23: Rest
Friday 6/24: 3 mile jog
Saturday 6/25: Jackie Warner's Xtreme Timesaver Training
Sunday 6/26: Walked on the treadmill (Have you ever heard it called the "dreadmill"? Ha! I love that.) for 45 minutes alternating between a 4.0-6.0 incline.
Did you notice that little 1 mile jog and 1 mile walk on Monday 6/20? Yeah...that was the only exercise I did the whole time I was in Tennessee (Saturday thru Wednesday).
It sucked. I attempted to go out for a run in my soon-to-be new stomping grounds thinking "Oh, this will be CAKE! I'm used to running at a 4,500 foot altitude so this is easy gonna be easy peasy!" Right?
Wrong. It was awful. I forgot how THICK the air feels in a humid climate, not to mention I started sweating profusely about 3 seconds in. Sweat often evaporates so quickly in Arizona that you hardly feel like you're sweating at all (even though you are). Not the case in good 'ole Tennessee.
I forced myself to stick with it until I hit the 1 mile mark and then I threw in the towel and walked the rest. I guess I'll have some adjusting to the climate to do when we move! Yikes.
P.S. Did you notice my new "About Me" page yet?! I'm embarrassed to say that I've been a blogger for well over 4 years now and I always wondered how people got those cool little separate pages at the top of their blog. I randomly discovered the "Edit Pages" option as I was blogging yesterday and felt like an IDIOT for not figuring that out sooner. I plan on creating several pages but I just started with "About Me" since that's the easiest one. Check it out and let me know what you think!
Sunday, June 26, 2011
We are in the process of buying a house!!
It's actually kind of a crazy story as to how it all came about so I figured I would share it here.
A few months ago, we found out we were being sent to Fort Campbell as our next duty station. We were thrilled with this because we've heard lots of great things about Fort Campbell and the surrounding area.
So as the move approached (we're moving at the end of July), we started discussing whether to rent or buy a home. In the past, we've always just rented because we really didn't even think of buying as an option for us. In my mind, buying a house was something we would do when we got out of the Army.
But as we started looking into options in the Clarksville area (the town outside of Fort Campbell), our views on buying started to change. The idea of purchasing a home still scared the bejeezus out of us, but there were too many advantages to it for us to not at least consider the idea.
I decided to book a trip to fly out to Tennessee with my mom and attempt to find a home (my husband couldn't get away from work). My mind was still pretty much set on finding a rental, but we went ahead and got pre-approved for a loan just in case we decided to buy.
The trip to Tennessee was this past Monday and Tuesday and we looked at a whole bunch of rental homes on the first day. About half of the rentals were immediately ruled out when we toured them because they were just disgusting/dirty/unlivable. We did find two rentals that would have worked for us, but one of them was already rented out (to someone else) by that evening and the other was located really, really far from Post.
At this point, I started to revisit the idea of buying. We were down to only one viable rental option and it was located super far away from where we wanted to be. It was also really expensive. Rental homes in Clarksville are in high demand so they charge a hefty premium for them. I just couldn't stomach the thought of how much money we'd be putting into a house that wasn't even ours.
On the second day, I asked our realtor to show us some houses in a price range that we were comfortable with just to see what we could get. That was the beginning of the end. :)
We looked at a couple of houses for sale on the second day, but still nothing was really jumping out at me. I was determined that if I was going to purchase a home it had to really WOW me. I wasn't going to settle just because I was desperate.
That is, until I found the house.
The moment I saw this house, even just from the outside, I felt like it was home.
It felt warm and comforting inside and it had a lot of the features that were important to us.
Possibly my favorite part of the house is the ginormous backyard with a lovely deck and tons of trees. I could see us throwing a party out here and having a blast with our friends.
The master bedroom could use a paint job and it's smaller than we're used to, but I know we'll make it work.
Now here's a shocker...the kitchen isn't perfect, but somehow I still love it.
The cabinets are a lighter stain than I like. It's not an open floor plan. There aren't a ton of cabinets or counterspace. The pantry is smaller than I'd prefer. The appliances are old and need to be replaced. The backsplash is boring white. Etc, etc, etc.
I thought the kitchen would be the thing I would be the most picky about, since I do spend so much time in it. But, surprisingly, those things didn't deter me. Instead of looking at those things as a negative, I saw them as potential. We can improve those things ourselves and potentially increase our resale value.
(Sidenote: I think my expectations for kitchens were also too high. I was sorely disappointed with almost every kitchen I saw, so this one seemed like a huge step up! I don't know why, but it seems like people don't put the same importance on kitchens in this area as they do in other parts of the country. Most of them were TINY and I simply can't work in a tiny kitchen. )
After we finished touring the house, I knew I wanted to put an offer in right away. Coming from the Queen of Indecisiveness, this was huge.
I still had to convince my husband, who was back in Arizona and still thinking that we were going to rent. Luckily, once I talked to him over the phone and told him to look at photos online, he (somewhat reluctantly) agreed that we should put in an offer. Poor guy was probably blindsided by the whole ordeal!
So we did. That same day we put in a offer. Talk about a whirlwind!!
We received a counteroffer by that same night from the seller, slept on it, put in our own final counteroffer, and then waited and prayed that things would work out.
As I was about to step on the plane to head home I got a call from our realtor letting me know that they accepted our counteroffer (!!!!).
So that's pretty much where things stand as of now. We're awaiting our inspection next week to see how that goes, but we're hopeful that it will come back without any major issues.
I have lots to say on the subject of buying a home, but this post is long enough already so I'll leave it like it is for now.
I never expected this to happen in such a whirlwind so it's been a bit of an emotional journey thus far, but I'm confident that things will work out the way they're supposed to.
If it's meant to be, it will be!